Current Research


Psychophysiological Correlates of Rumination, worry and mind wandering 


Considering that the ability to adaptively let our mind wander without ruminating or worrying is critical to mental health, the broad aim of this research project is to directly examine the physiological and neural systems underlying this process. Our main goal is to clarify when mind wandering becomes dysfunctional and a risk factor for health. Specifically, we hypothesize that an increase in cognitive rigidity (inhibitory deficit) during mind wandering will be associated with higher levels of autonomic inflexibility assessed, for example, by heart rate variability (HRV), an established risk factor for health.
 
Processes contributing to the onset and the perseveration of rumination 

People structure much of their daily lives around a set of personal goals that represent what they are currently striving to achieve or aspiring to become (Cantor & Langston, 1989; Emmons, 1986, 1991, 1992). According to the “Goal Progress Theory” of Martin and Tesser (1989) the failure to attain an important goal initiates mental activity that continues until the goal is either met or abandoned. Hence, rumination is considered as the result of failure to progress sufficiently toward important higher order goals.The aim of our research is verify experimentally this theory through the manipulation of personal goals in order to understand the real mechanism behind rumination and looking for resources and strategies that can decrease it.

Depression, Goals and Adverse Life Events
 
This line of research aims at understanding the causal and dynimical factors of depression by considering the relationship between specific patterns of depressive symptoms,  individual's motivations, and stressful life events.  
 
Cognitive and motivational mechanisms underlyng attentional biases 
 
Attentional biases have been defined as the preferential allocation of attentional resources towards threat stimuli (Cisler and Koster, 2010). Even if a wealth of research in the last twenty years have observed attentional biases in many anxiety disorders, and that principal theoretical models assume their role in the etiology and the maintenance of these disorders (Mathews and MacLeod, 1994; Mogg and Bradley, 2003), the causal factors determining such phenomena are not well understood yet. The present research aims to bridge this gap by testing the hypothesys that attentional biases are caused by implicit memory and anticipatory processes instead of spatial attentional mechanisms. More in general, this research could help to develop more effective psychotherapeuthic treatments and to shed light in the comprehension of the mechanisms at the base of  anxiety disorders.
 
Neuroscience of Body Image 
 
This line of research concerns the mental representation of our body and how this shapes perception. We are interested in how body representation emerges during development and the extent to which it can be altered in adults suffering from various diseases such as Eating Disorders and brain damage. We are also interested in the study of touch, proprioception and consciousness and how these functions are related to psychiatric diseases For such studies we utilise a wide range of methodologies, including psychophysics and behavioural testing, MRI, fMRI, NIRS, tDCS, and EEG.
 
Moral emotions 
 
Affective Forecasting in anxiety and depression 
 
Motivated Cognition 
 
Personality and risk factors in mood disorders
 
Personality disorders
 
Psychological interventions and Psychoterapy
 
Positive psychology and well-being
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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